Raila Odinga

Month: September 2019

Remarks of Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, EGH, High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, African Union, during the Institute of Directors of Kenya; 3rd Annual Corporate Governance Conference.

Remarks of Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, EGH, High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, African Union, during the Institute of Directors of Kenya; 3rd Annual Corporate Governance Conference.

Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to the Institute of Directors of Kenya for the invitation to talk its members at this interesting time for our country and Africa.

Here in Kenya, we are enjoying a rare period of peace and stability and one that we should all make good use of as corporate sectors.

Across the world, there is agreement that Africa is the next investment and growth frontier. It is with the realization that Africa too is doing more to promote trade with itself and to attract more investment by focusing on infrastructure of transportation, energy and internet connectivity.

That is why in March last year, we created the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which commits countries to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods, progressively liberalizes trade in services and addresses a host of other non-tariff barriers. That is a huge step given that intra-Africa trade level stands at just around 20 per cent, while Europe and Asia are at 69 per cent and 59 per cent, respectively.

This meeting therefore provides us with a timely opportunity to identify and discuss issues that affect our corporate sector as a country and develop appropriate ideas and solutions. Our ultimate goal is to enhance corporate governance that will enable businesses here improve their performance and in turn create jobs for our young people and contribute to our economy.

But it goes well beyond jobs and the economy. A strong and thriving corporate sector can be a valuable ambassador for our country in ways no diplomatic representation ever can. That is what global firms like Samsung, Toyota, Sony, Apple, Microsoft, among others, have done for their countries. Corporations have also become proven tools for mobilizing resources for national development especially in the era Private Public Partnerships.

Our ultimate goal must be to have homemade equivalents of these global corporations. It is therefore in our best interest as a nation to ensure a strong and thriving corporate sector.
Kenya remains a vibrant business hub and a regional financial centre. But we have tremendous space for growth by addressing certain basics, like creating a level playing field for all businesses, ensuring a clean and efficient government, creating a prolonged low and simple tax regime and ensuring the rule of law.

For companies to be successful, competitive and sustainable, we need a high standard of governance both in public and private sectors.
We need enhanced corporate transparency from businesses that helps investors to easily analyze the risk profiles and investment potential of companies, monitor their progress and performance, and take action when they believe that directors are not acting in the interests of the companies.

Helping businesses set up here is however just one small portion of a much bigger and complex picture. As we make it easy for corporations to set up shop, we must also attend to related issues like modernizing the corporate winding-up regime; including clear protections for creditors.

If we are going to be a strong and credible corporate destination, we must also work on clear corporate rescue procedures.

We need to come up with ways of ensuring that companies with long-term business prospects facing short-term financial difficulties are rescued. That works in the interests of creditors, shareholders and employees.

As we pursue trade and investment across regions, we must come up with how best ways to resolve cross-border corporate issues.
It requires that we strengthen our front-line regulators, in this case the Nairobi Securities Exchange and empower it to promote the corporate governance of listed companies. The regulator must have capacity for risk management and ensuring disclosure and the accountability of directors. In keeping with global trends, the regulator must incorporate the environmental and social disclosure requirements regardless of their place of incorporation.

It is also important for companies to ensure open and transparent engagement with shareholders to promote consensus-building, pre-empt aggressive shareholder activism and enhance corporate governance.

To reap the benefits of envisaged intra-Africa trade, we need to work together as governments and private sector to ensure win-win outcomes out of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

Seeking a win-win is important given that the agreement brings on board a diverse membership of least-developed, landlocked, small-island, and lower- and upper-middle level countries, as well as countries in conflict.

In the end, the answer to unlocking Kenya’s and Africa’s growth potential is not what they do in Beijing, Washington, DC, London or Paris. It is what we do here in Kenya and in Africa as business and political leaders.

Realizing these goals therefore requires that we build a new coalition in this country.
We require a new and strong coalition between the government, the corporate world, civil society and the faith-based communities to tackle the corruption and impunity that is holding our political and corporate sectors hostage.

We need a coalition that helps us realize a new nation guided by principles of dignity, prosperity and security of citizens as opposed to individual needs.

We need a strong collaboration for our country to achieve changes in our system of governance that will make us realize national rebirth and end the ethnic antagonism and divisive political competition that have become our way of life.

Not everyone agrees, but anyone with the interest of Kenya and that of future generation at heart cannot deny that Kenya has gone full circle with its divisions and that over the years, we have been witnesses to unity and hope being followed by discord and division between our independence and our last election. Nobody can deny that over the years, relationships between our ethnic groups and political formations have deteriorated and it seems to be getting worse with every general election.

No one can deny that from the high pedestal of unity that characterised our struggle for independence, we have increasingly and progressively sunk lower, and relationships between our communities and political formations have become that of aggression and antagonism. We cannot deny that for some time now, our country has been defined by corruption and violence and this is taking deeper roots locally and abroad and all these things affect businesses negatively.

We cannot grow and we cannot build a responsible corporate culture when people have to pay a bribe to start a business or get a tax compliance clearance.

It is my hope that we can work together and realize these high ideals that will ensure a sound environment for business to thrive. We need a strong and new coalition to stop our country from suffering same tribulations that we have lived with since 1963. It is good for the country. It is good for business.
Thank you.



I want to begin with some broad observations on what I see as the overall philosophy behind this book.
One is that the story of today’s strong and prosperous nations is that of starting over again, changing course and seeking rebirth.
Secondly, debate is a good and necessary culture and tradition that every nation that hopes to move forward needs to cultivate.
Nations move forward by constantly debating, challenging old assumptions, refusing to settle and always testing new frontiers and new possibilities.
Thirdly, we must discard fear and fear mongering as a way of dealing with our problems; what President Franklin Roosevelt called “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Nations need to constantly negotiate with citizens and even with themselves on how to move forward and be the best among others.
President J.F Kennedy summarized this mindset in his words; “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
I believe this is the guiding philosophy behind this book.
In a country where politics is driven on the basis of attack, counter attack and more attack, it takes real commitment for a county governor to reflect on critical national issues and put them in a book.
We have to congratulate prof for this rare achievement that is not wholly unexpected.
We have had this tradition of leaders putting their thoughts into books to invite debate. Tom J. Mboya, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkurumah, Leopold Senghor, Jomo Kenyatta, Oginga Odinga all promoted the culture of debate on critical national issues through writing.
This pattern of debate, starting over and seeking rebirth is the story of the USA. It is the story of modern Europe.
As we all know, after the brutal civil war, the USA sought a rebirth that culminated in the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution.
The amendments outlawed slavery, made the newly freed slaves American citizens, granted them the right to vote, redefined the relationship between individuals and the State, and, for the first time, guaranteed the basic equality of all people, no matter their skin color, station in life or citizenship.
In Europe, after numerous ethnic and civil wars that ended up in two world wars, leaders went all out to make certain that there would not be a third war.
They agreed Europe must be reorganized in some sort of federation or union that could blunt the national jealousies and assuage the economic hungers that had been the precursors of both wars.
This book and this gathering falls in this great tradition of debate and rebirth.
At critical moments in our history, our citizens have got together and debated their future to find a way out.
Am glad that in this room there are men and women who have lived by these broad beliefs and can testify about their necessity.
Looking at the challenges the nation is going through, debating and reasoning are going to be critical.
Through this book, we are being invited to discuss soberly, honestly and candidly some of challenges we face as a country.
There is agreement that for far too long, our country has run on the Politics of Brinkmanship, which now needs to end.
And so some of our leaders and citizens are asking; is their need for amendments to the Constitution of Kenya? If yes, do we go Parliamentary or remain Presidential?
Should we introduce proportional representation as the electoral system or do we retain the current first-past-the-post simple majority procedure.
How do we strengthen and enhance the devolution system or are we satisfied with the system as it is today.
As Prof. Michael Chege writes in the Forward, our violent electoral conflicts every five years are ever about the presidential poll, and seldom or ever about elective positions further down the political hierarchy.
It is also established that electoral violence is more frequent under presidential regimes than parliamentary regimes.
People lose contests for parliamentary or county seats but it never degenerates into widespread violence or any at all. That is good enough reason for the country to relook the National Executive and fix the causes of passionate struggle to win it.
A Parliamentary system is viewed as a better way to raise the majority threshold in a country where tribes view each other with suspicion in the contest for power.
Parliamentary system is generally suitable for plural societies; that is societies in which the political landscape is composed of diverse cultural, religious, ethnic, racial and regional interests, and that is what Kenya is.
But it is not just about the Executive. We are also struggling with how to ensure national cohesion, provision of sound leadership and creating institutions that can stand up for the nation even under the greatest of pressures.
In a nutshell, we have the challenge of how to re-strategize as a country and start over for the future as many successful nations have done.
In our country today, we have strived to create this forum for reasoned debate through the Building Bridges to a New Kenyan Nation.
That team is tackling nine key areas including Ethnic antagonism and competition, lack of national ethos, inclusivity, devolution, divisive elections, safety and security and corruption.
All these critical question that require genuine debate.
They require structured debate without fear.
Unfortunately, such efforts like this by governor Nyongo and the BBI are being hindered by the culture of hatred for debate and preference for fear and fear-mongering.
Debate is the tested way to ensure politics of reason overcomes the politics of fear, whose result often is hatred and division, which, unfortunately, is getting mainstreamed in this country.
And debate is the way to create a well-informed citizenry.
As former US Vice President writes in The Assault on Reason, “If leaders exploit public fears to herd people in directions they might not otherwise choose, then fear itself can quickly become a self-perpetuating and freewheeling force that drains national will and weakens national character, diverting attention from real threats deserving of healthy and appropriate fear and sowing confusion about the essential choices that every nation must constantly make about the future.”
As a country, let us not threaten our citizens against debating their future.
We must guard against fear-mongering and embrace any effort that encourages debate about our current state and our future.
This book is one such effort, as is the BBI.



Stanley Hotel
20th September 2019

It is a great honour for me to join you at this important conference where you focus on advancing Social Justice, promoting decent work and evaluating the role of Trade Unions. As you are all aware, Kenya has a history with the Labour Movement both in Africa and globally. We have a history of established trade unionists who have made a mark across the globe and the current efforts led by brother Francis Atwoli follow this great and established tradition. We support his efforts.
This conference is taking place at a very trying and changing time in the world of labour and work in general. But it is also happening at a very hopeful moment for Africa. Africa is today one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. Our middle class is rising and is projected to grow to more than one billion consumers in the decades ahead.
It is happening partly because of our workers and the economic and political reforms we have pursued in the last two decades. We are also meeting at a time the Continent is prioritizing continental integration and trade as the key new drivers of economic growth as envisaged in the Africa 2063 agenda that we are all committed to.
That commitment is seen in the recent formation of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the new focus on intra Africa trade. The economic take-off we envisage will however not be realized without adequate attention to our workers and the work environment. It must therefore create more impetus for a deeper look into our world of work and the plight of our workers.
That means our workers will need an even stronger and louder voice in the coming decades. It means labour leaders will have to consistently remain on the frontlines of championing the interests and the concerns of the workers and ensure they live and work in dignity.
The challenges ahead call for greater collaboration between Africa’s labour movement and our government to address a number of issues. Our countries need to standardize rules governing the movement of workers; including issuance of work permits and treatment of migrant workers to avoid developments like those recently witnessed on the Continent.
We need to make it easier for our skilled workers to work in and for Africa. Today, partly because of low pay but also because of unclear rules governing acquisition of work permits, a number of our skilled workers find it easier to find work in the western world and only come back home to retire, if they ever return. We must reverse this trend.
Standardization of rules will also have to include reforms that help Africa trade more with itself so that we don’t have to keep looking overseas for trade and skilled labor. It is a challenge our labour leaders must consistently tackle by working in close consultations with our governments. When we trade more, we create work for our people.
Labour movements will also have to work with governments to ensure a speedy modernization of our customs and border crossings to make it easier for us to trade with each other, for workers to move from country to country and for investors to set up shop and provide jobs.

Clear rules of engagement will enable us see each other as partners rather than competitors in the grand plan to make Africa great and competitive.
Often, the unfortunate happenings of struggling Africans turning against fellow struggling Africans are never government policies.
Such happenings result from frustration with the inadequacy of our economies and the smallness of the ugali.
Such acts need to be condemned strongly and punished. However, rather than lead to condemnation of each other, withdrawal from and retaliation against nations where they occur, these acts should be reason for greater collaboration so that our nations are able to cook a bigger cake together. They should be reason for individual nations and regional economic communities to invest more in their economies and greater education of our people to be their brothers and sisters keepers.
Thank you all.
I wish you fruitful deliberations.

REMARKS OF H.E. RAILA ODINGA AT THE  INAUGURAL CONFERENCE IN AFRICA  “Public Private Partnerships Africa’s Next Big Thing;


It is my great pleasure to speak at this important conference on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).
Our presence here today is an indication of just how things and thinking are changing in Africa.
There is optimism in the continent’s future and new thinking on how to finance the opening up of Africa and all its regions to business, travel and trade. Our countries increasingly recognize the importance of infrastructure to their economic growth and are actively exploring solutions to fund the required development.
There is a new appreciation by our governments that infrastructure bottlenecks will restrict our growth aspirations and are therefore working to provide the infrastructure community with strong value propositions for investment.
As we seek to develop infrastructure, we acknowledge the inadequacies of the traditional mode of infrastructure financing.
To this end, I congratulate the Government of Uganda for this conference that is a clear manifestation of the new thinking to align Africa to the rest of the world with regard to financing infrastructure and related public services.
As a critical gateway to the Continent, eastern Africa needs to position itself to play a significant role in infrastructure financing and development.

We therefore need to begin thinking of innovative financial markets, strong legal system, progressive regulatory framework and ease of funding for purposes of infrastructure.
As you are all aware, strengthening regional integration is identified as a priority and one of the key new drivers of economic growth in the Africa 2063 agenda that we are all committed to.
The formation of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the new focus on intra Africa trade has created more impetus for more investment in regional infrastructure development.
With the creation of the continental free trade area, we entered a new era of infrastructure development.
The new era forces us to provide a diverse set of infrastructure assets on a grand regional scale as an immediate and urgent priority and challenge.
To achieve this goal, we must do what others cross the world have done before or are doing today; which is using Public Private Partnerships to deliver infrastructure and related public services.
Traditional public funding sources for infrastructure are falling far short of the investment needs, hence the necessity to mobilize private funds.
To succeed, we need to put and pursue all options for PPP on the table, like contracts for private-sector-run road maintenance services and Build-Operate-Transfer or BOT agreements.
To date, we lack clear PPP policy as regional bloc. We also suffer low capacity and lack of institutions responsible for driving PPPs and clear laws and customs governing PPPs especially on a regional scale.

There is also the problem of low quality and age of infrastructure, which discourage serious investors from entering PPP deals with us, alongside bureaucratic procedures and fragmented decision-making.
And we suffer from the all-time old problem of Corruption.
For PPPs to take roots and work, governments must take the lead and create necessary conditions and enabling environments.
It is the responsibility of governments to plan and prioritize individual infrastructure investments that are meant for PPPs, in line with policy targets.
This means we need to prioritize reaching broad agreements as a region on what aspects of infrastructure development to prioritize whether it is roads, energy, railways, pipelines, waterways and airports.
Success with PPPs requires that we arm ourselves with policy actions from participating governments as well as a strong high-level political backing.
High level political backing is critical. The World Bank reports that when the N4 Toll Road linking South Africa’s most industrialized, but effectively land-locked northern and eastern regions of Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces to the Mozambican port of Maputo was completed, it was recognized as a pioneering accomplishment.
It was the first toll road concession signed in Sub-Sahara Africa. It was also the first cross-border transport PPP, and only the second regional PPP in any sector.
Most important is that the project was successful because of high-level support that came directly from the presidents of the two countries.
Our governments need to work together with the private sector and development partners to establish technical assistance facilities dedicated to the identification and preparation of projects.
As a region, we need to develop a short list of well-prepared projects ready for take up on PPP basis.

Luckily, the African Union Commission has prioritized lists of such projects under the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) that aims at interconnecting, integrating and transforming the continent. PIDA projects are good candidates for PPP on regional scale.
The World Bank in its PPI report indicates that Africa is doing badly with regard to PPPs.
The World Bank’s PPI Database has recorded only seven regional infrastructure projects on the African continent since 2000. Five have been transport projects, while; two have been natural gas transmission projects. There is room for us to grow in this sector.
We must work on limiting risks for PPP projects through adequate project selection as well as fair, transparent and competitive bidding process.
Risk mitigation must also include guarantees that Governments will honor their contractual commitments throughout the project lifetime.
Working as a region instead of individual countries, it could become easy for us to tap into the assets managed globally by institutional investors, such as pension funds, insurance companies and sovereign wealth funds for infrastructure projects.
I therefore welcome this initiative by Kampala in the hope that it could be the start of an era of thinking and planning regionally for effective infrastructure development.
I thank everyone for attending and wish you very fruitful deliberations.